Product Name: Income Shops
Advertised Price: $29.95/month
Upgrades: $49.95/month, $59.95/month, $469.95
Note: At the behest of the persistent owners of this company, I've updated this review as of Oct 22, 2014. Despite being told that much had changed, most of my opinions remain the same. The only major change was my view on the live chat, and you'll find details of this below. I will clearly mark the updated parts.
What Is It?
Instantly build an ecommerce affiliate website based around a niche market.
Here are some of the features listed on their main domain. Here are my thoughts on each of the features. UPDATE: The feature section has changed, but the basic principles of what is offered has changed.
Instant Delivery: It sounds awesome, but it's not. You are given a template website and you will have to change the majority of what you see in order to make this website profitable.
Web Hosting: Hosting is included in the monthly fee you pay, but OMG, $30/month for hosting is expensive! You can get pretty good hosting for one website for as little as $3 per month from big name hosting companies.
Design Control: You have a little control over your site's look, but much less than you might imagine. You are basically limited to a few boxes to move around, and maybe a custom logo.
Product Retailers: Most product retailers listed on their site do not have exclusive affiliate relationships with IncomeShops.com. This means you can form affiliate relationships without the help of income shops.
Content: WYSIWYG is nothing special. This is pretty standard nowadays. Building websites and doing simple design is not something you should fear, and not something you should pay extra for.
Social Media: Social media integration is also standard for most pre built websites. Nothing to brag about.
Mobile Friendly: This is important. Yes, they get +1 for a mobile friendly website. It means that when people access your site on a phone or tablet, the website still looks nice.
SEO: Neil Patel truly is an SEO and online marketing guru. Unfortunately, these guides will be way over your head if you are a complete newbie. There is some easy stuff, but it's so generalized that I think it will be hard to make sense of it.
Support & Training: The training was mediocre at best. Honest? Yes. Legit? Yes. Great? No way.
Earnings & Revenue: Ok, technically you can make money from the site. But it's going to be a lot harder than just setting up your “virtual mall”.
Average looking websites, mediocre training, and sub-par support means that this is not likely going to be the powerful affiliate site they claim it will be.
What I Liked
There are a variety of niches available, and the sites are not badly designed. Well, the premium and pro sites that have been completed look pretty good, but remember that they come with a $500 price tag in addition to the more expensive monthly fee.
The sites are mobile friendly, which is a big deal these days.
I did play around with their website editor and it was easy enough to move stuff around. The software they use to build the sites is easy to understand, and with their instruction videos and a bit of time, you could probably have a decent looking site.
Neil Patel is well known in the internet marketing community, and his guides and videos contained in the IncomeShops learning center contained some useful information on ranking, SEO, traffic, and some other advanced topics.
What I Didn't Like
To start off, the sites they show off on their main page are professionally done, and will cost you as much as a $500 one time fee and then $60 per month. That's a long way up from the advertised $29 per month! Your custom website will be much simpler and less impressive looking unfortunately. If you are option for an expensive pre-made one, there are currently on 13 to choose from!
Update: Income Shops has divided their plans into 4 options. The most basic plan which will cost you $21/month does NOT come with live chat support!
After that, the difference between a $35/month and a $70/month plan is the number of products, retailers and categories you can make. Oh, and you can get up to 7 design themes. To me, this just doesn't make sense. If you create a self-hosted WordPress site (free + $5-$10/month hosting) you get UNLIMITED categories, UNLIMITED products, UNLIMITED retailers, and 24,000+ themes available to you.
And even before you order your site, there is a lot of confusion as to what type of niche you can choose, what domain name you choose, and what to call your site. Actually, all of this stuff can be changed later. I stressed out, thinking that I was going to be stuck with yet another niche website that I didn't have time to build, so I did a bunch of research to find a good one!
Update: I would also like to add the comment that some of their site ideas are just plain silly. Things like vacuum cleaners and hats are not the best way to start out on your first business. But since they don't' really explain what's going on and how to choose a proper niche, a lot of people are going to be stuck with oddly themed sites like that. This time around I started a site about coffee cups (supposedly), but there was no “coffee” from the food and drink dropdown menu. So I ended up with a site that included:
It turns out they just give you a free subdomain (website.incomesites.com) and you can change it later. You can change products later. You can change everything later, so the whole “choose a subject” for your website thing was totally unnecessary.
But those prices are only if you are buying a pre-made site (some of which will cost you $100's in design fees). I built a “custom site”, and here's the pricing I saw:
Again, I think they are charging for some pretty silly stuff. SEO Optimization? Should be free. Categories? Should be free. And they are still limiting the number of products I can put on my site. There's really no reason to have 5,000 products on your site (and I doubt even huge stores have that many), but I really think they should find a better way to divide the payment options. You are paying more for premium, and not getting anything more value.
In fact, it's totally, 100% free to sign up for an affiliate program and download product images/links to your site. When I start a website, I usually sign up for 2 or 3 affiliate programs right away. There is usually no reason to need more than a few. Two or three competing stores will give you THOUSANDS of items to choose from.
IncomeShops.com Training & Back End
The audio in the videos was very odd. Update: Audio was still “meh”. It sounds like they need a better mic. It wasn't quite low quality, but it was low, fuzzy, and non-professional sounding. I expected more from a company with such a fancy website and marketing page. The content within the videos was legit, simple, and easy to follow. However, each video is only 1-7 minutes long, and lacking sufficient training is one of the major issues I still see with this site.
In other words, there is enough training to get your website set up, but I felt it was clearly not enough to adequately teach you how to build a successful business.
The design of the website is very limited by the drag & drop design of their website editor. It may seem like an advantage to have things so simple, but you are going to have a hard time getting any unique character to your website with only movable squares available to design your affiliate website!
Quicksprout Guides from Neil Patel:
Neil is an expert, and it shows in his work. However, the guides are a huge leap from where the training at IncomeShops.com leaves you off at. In the span of four PDF guides, Neil jumps from traffic generation, so social media, to basic and advanced SEO topics.
- Social Media
- Search Engine Optimization
- Advanced SEO
Wait, what's that? You don't know WHY you need this stuff? You don't even know how to create engaging content for your blog, or why it's important? You don't know how to get traffic to your blog, how to find popular products to market, and are still not 100% clear what affiliate marketing is? The
By the time you get to the super advanced videos, you will have no idea why Neil is interviewing a guy with a stock market website.
Don't get me wrong, I found the videos fascinating because these are semi-famous people that are talking about their tactics for generating money online. However, what they do has very little relationship to what you are doing with the affiliate website you created with IncomeShops.
One last thing to remember is that the website you build on IncomeShops.com is NOT owned by you! If you decide to leave, They keep all of your content, pictures, and work. You only keep the domain (website.com) name you purchased after signing up!
(previous) Update: Less than 6 hours after publishing this review I received an email from the IncomeShops customer support staff! The staff member (or owner) wanted to make it clear that they are not promoting a get rich quick scheme. That was not the impression they gave me, but I felt that it was not made clear enough that you will have to put a large amount of work into these sites if they are to be profitable in the future.
New Updates Oct 2014
After being contacted several times by the owners to update my egregiously outdated review, I decided to take a look again at the site. I was shocked to see that not much had changed in the back end. There were some changes to the pricing and the training setup, but the nuts and bolts of what you're paying for was exactly the same.
I did notice that live chat was very helpful. They were quick to answer my questions, and very friendly. However, you are limited to chatting with just one person, and do not have access to a community of people to exchange ideas with.
I also see that they are recommending services like these for traffic and social presence:
This is a horrible idea. Paying for YouTube views can actually get your account suspended if you have monetized your videos. Paying for Facebook Likes and Twitter followers is a waste of your money. These followers and likes are either bots, or people from developing countries paid to like your stuff. Someone that's paid to like is NOT going to buy anything from you. I honestly can't believe they actually recommend this, and I think it shows a serious lack of knowledge about the world of internet marketing.
On a positive note, they also have daily webinars, which I did not sign up for or check the quality of. With the exception of these I feel that this is a very static service. It's my opinion that you are essentially paying for hosting of an ecommerce website with some basic training available to you. There are much better options available.
Oh, and I'm not quite sure about their refund policy. Supposedly we are entitled to a full refund within the 7 day window, but
- For all refunds there is a mandatory $13 administration fee
- You are entitled for a full refund, minus the cost of the domain name
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound like a full refund to me.
Update: Although I complained a lot in this review, these guys do have a legit site with some merits that some people do seem to like. I have changed my review process over the last year, and have changed the original score of 68/100 (thumbs down) to a 71/100 (thumbs up).
IncomeShops.com will help you build an not-bad-looking website with some products to sell However, their lack of training and business plan for you means that there is a high risk of failure. An ecommerce site without traffic or sales conversions is not going to make you any money.
Let's look at some of the flaws, and you'll see why I recommend the site where I got my training affiliate marketing training.
- No live support
- Very little training
- Missing puzzle pieces
- Big steps, not baby steps
- No free option
It's no wonder the community where I learned how to build websites and make money from them is currently ranked #1 on my site, and scored a 98/100!
$47/month gets you:
- Free hosting for any number of domains you own (.com, .org, etc)
- Unlimited free subdomains
- 24,000 templates to choose from
- Add unlimited products and affiliate programs to your sites
- Live chat support with the owners, myself, and other members
- Hundreds of updated training modules
- Real SEO, blogging, and online business training
- Weekly live webinars