In this segment, we take a look at the Platform, otherwise known as the Dashboard – the website interface between the members and the instructional elements. In an unusual twist in a membership site, unlike that of any other, Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim, two very highly successful entrepreneurs became extremely passionate and strongly committed to taking what they have learnt and helping others take the exact same blueprint to build successful online businesses. From the very beginning, the Wealthy Affiliate Dashboard was designed with this in mind.
A Short Historic Perspective on the Dashboard
I would love to get my hands on an image of what the earliest Dashboard looked like. My best guess is that the Dashboard (aka: Members’ Area) shared the same header as the Wealthy Affiliate sales home page, though this is conjecture. To be sure however, the Dashboard was simpler in every way due to the smaller amount of elements on it and that it was developing along.
Shown above is the Wealthy Affiliate home page. Beating Adwords, the famous ebook which taught the early members how to set up and run Adwords campaigns. This sister site to Wealthy Affiliate targeted folks outside of the membership though it is unknown by me at this time whether or not this promotion included the members as well or that it was offered at a discount or even free. It shows however, that Wealthy Affiliate experienced rapid growth, even during the earliest months of its existence when Kyle & Carson was taking a limited number of new members. They did this of course, because unlike many other websites that touted one-on-one coaching, these two did it without extra costs and countless, literally countless of accounts of this being done can still be seen today just looking into WA’s history, not to mention that it still is being done today in spite of WA’s 1.3-million member-community!
Even from the beginning, though the keyword lists were WA’s main attraction, Kyle & Carson gave the members far more than could be expected in any other keyword list site:
Whilst other keyword list sites may have had some sort of training, they often lacked the support and even worse, a community. From Wealthy Affiliate’s beginning, even during its pre-launch days, Kyle & Carson provided any serious and interested student these three important aspects. These are three very good reasons why Wealthy Affiliate is what it is today.
There was of course, the weekly keyword lists, some sort of instructional elements on (or links) to the featured helps, such as AdWords, various advertising methods going at the time and other points of interest that Kyle and Carson shared with the early membership.
The main medium of communication has always been the Forum from the start. It is erroneously thought that the Forum came after about the 50th member on board, but depending on when this 50th or so, came along, it would have had to have been before the official launch date. In fact, the first Forum (there were two versions of a stand alone forum software, separate and apart from the WA website, interlinked.) was commissioned on September 7, 2005.
The earliest updates to the Platform came roughly as followed:
From the launch date, the membership unprecedentedly grew, gradually during the first few days and then picking up pace quite dramatically. This keyword list site quickly became the most popular due to the owners pushing to make Wealthy Affiliate simply the best keyword list site on the Internet. Paying it forward was not, nor still isn’t a popular element used by most marketers. Kyle and Carson approached their marketing campaigns with utmost integrity and honesty and most of all, the sheer passion of showing others how to sort out the awful mess that simply turned many off from wanting anything to do with affiliate marketing.
Like myself, over one-million people world-wide, over the last 13 years, have found Wealthy Affiliate, saw what I had seen and grew to love these two amazing men and their creation. Over the years, I have seen tears shed because for some reason, they were being pulled away. Aside from the many success stories and lives forever changed, from 2005, Wealthy Affiliate has been a legacy.
Just a few days before the official launch, Kyle & Carson set up a stand-alone forum for member interaction.
New (and updated) training modules were amongst the earliest additions to the Platform. The new forum and training materials on the platform grew very quickly and helped take the growing problem of trying to answer many recurring questions. The overall theme of the training modules were to help members learn how to implement the keyword lists and drive traffic to their websites. They also featured Pay-Per-Click and various other advertising methods as well as organic search engine optimization.
The monthly price at this point, went up from $29.99 to $39.99. The reason being, the need for more server space, hired employees and upkeep of the member site. In a few months’ time, Wealthy Affiliate was already growing out of the keyword list site parameters.
On April 2, Kyle & Carson added a small tour for aspiring affiliate marketers to be able to take a look at what Wealthy Affiliate was about at the time. Here we get a tiny glimpse of what the Wealthy Affiliate Dashboard looked like, even a single view.
Also shown is an audio player featuring an early Wealthy Affiliate member who took the training seriously and applied it to his developing home business. One of many, by this time, he had already left his job and tripled the income he was getting from his old job.
September 12, 2006, Internet Marketing Newswatch announced a brand new and amazing huge update coming to Wealthy Affiliate – Wealthy Affiliate 2.0. This was a complete overhaul for the Dashboard.
One of the major developments in 2006 came on October 2nd when Wealthy Affiliate 2.0 rolled out.
The basic shape of today’s Wealthy Affiliate Platform takes place with the addition of “WA Spaces,” which was (and still is) the familiar member biographical area. In forum style, members could communicate back and forth between their WA Spaces. It is not know by me at this time whether or not blogs were included as yet, and it seems these were added later.
Wealthy Affiliate’s Dashboard Takes Shape
By June of 2007, Wealthy Affiliate was a busy beehive humming with activity and already the familiar place to get lost in, which was the chiefest of complaints amongst new members. It indeed was a maze to get around in, though it was still quite easy to become accustomed to. The directory tree (using the left sidebar menu) shows us what was inside Wealthy Affiliate’s Dashboard at the time.
The Homepage has always consisted of the news of the happenings around Wealthy Affiliate, it’s members, and what’s hot on the forefront of the popular tools, both online and onboard Wealthy Affiliate. Here you fond the newest members coming in, the top stories by members and current trends. This was the Wealthy Affiliate Dashboard Home Page. To this day, the Front Page serves all of these purposes and even more today!
The concept of My WA began early on with the personalization of the Dashboard that was unique and suited to each member. It remains the same today but much improved.
Here you accessed your profile page, your campaigns, passwords, kept track of your tasks and goals, is where you accessed the courses and of course, found the Welcome Message when you first joined.
The Learning Resources was compartmentalized from early on as the Platform grew. For some time, this area became so overwhelming that new and seasoned members alike had problems getting lost. This got worse before it got better, but with interaction amongst members, this issue was minimal as members pointed other members where they needed to go.
The earlier Resource Center had inner compartments for Beginners, Intermediates and Advanced Affiliate marketers and a Video Vault.
This menu item launched your My WA Space, which was its own application. There was also a sub-menu button for help in using the WA Spaces.
WA Jobs (New!)
Anything brand new to the Platform appeared here. In 2008, one of the new features to arise was WA Jobs. This was a platform which allowed members to hire out work to be done and other members to accept the assignments. Compensation was done using the Wealthy Affiliate currency going at the time, “Golds.” With golds, you could pay for the services done by the other members. Golds had a monetary value and you could cash them out when you reached a certain threshold.
Today WA Jobs no longer exists. however Wealthy Affiliate still has it’s own online currency which is used for the present inter-member services that go on. As was then, you can cash out your credits, as they are called. For a time, the WA currency phased out with the jobs but fairly recently they were re-introduced.
We now come to the world-renowned Wealthy Affiliate Forum. The Forum slightly predates the official launch of Wealthy Affiliate. Kyle and Carson quickly discovered during pre-launch times that the membership was going to explode in size, and to accommodate the already important inter-communication between members, set up a stand-alone forum program.
The Forum quickly became incredibly full of information about business, affiliate marketing, related discussions and social conversations. The boards included Introduce Yourself, Members, How We Should Improve WA, and a number of others dealing with the latest trends in and around Wealthy Affiliate. Few other affiliate marketing platforms with any resemblance to Wealthy Affiliate had such advanced interaction between members. Though a community in its own right before the Forum, it is Wealthy Affiliate’s encouragement to interact and communicate freely that makes the Community so special and unique today.
The forum was decommissioned in 2013 because much of the discussions about affiliate marketing, search engine optimization and other business items became dated. The old information was taking new members down wrong roads as they tried to implement the now-dated concepts that worked at the time they were written.
Unfortunately a lot of history and some great timely discussions went with the old Forum, but its legacy lives on in Wealthy Affiliate’s newer venues, which are all built-into the Platform and are very forum-based to this day.
By the end of 2007, Kyle, Carson & team added one more major element to the Dashboard – WA Hosting. This wasn’t all – to make the update complete, SiteRubix also came into being. Over time, with a completely self-sufficient setup aimed at providing members everything onboard that they would have to otherwise get outside, Wealthy Affiliate left all the competition in the dust. From this point on, no other company of this kind would ever touch the skirt of Kyle and Carson’s creation.
On July 21, 2009, Wealthy Affiliate Platinum BETA was opened to any member who was interested in testing out the new Dashboard. The new features included:
- Fully Updated WA Spaces
- Brand New, Completely Overhauled Training Center
- Wealthy Affiliate’s Own Keyword Research Tool
- A New Smart-Looking Interface
- BETA Feedback System that Allowed Member Interaction & Feedback
It was launched on September 15, 2009. For weeks after the launch, the work continued as it had plenty of bugs in it, most notably a database issue in the affiliate program area. There were numerous other things that needed to be fixed and tweaked but in due time, and by the time I joined three and one half months later, most of the bugs were fixed. This is the Dashboard I found when I joined.
Another major fix was some issues with the 8-Week Action Plan, which was an aging time-released weekly set of instructions on article marketing, Pay-per-Click, search engine optimization (SEO) and more. The biggest complaint about the course was the delivery of the lessons. Members were completing the lessons well before week’s end and had to wait till the next week to receive the following lesson.
Other problems included diversification of the above said marketing methods within an 8-week period looked great on paper but was not attainable for most members due to the nature of trying to implement too many of these at once. The Course was taken down and re-launched, allowing members to head into the next lesson without having to wait. The lessons themselves were completely rewritten.
The Research Center had some major improvements and new items were added, including Google Match Types, Keyword Phrase Builder, Research Top Listings, the Keyword Research Tool, Keyword Generator and the Clickbank Research Tool. These tools could also be accessed by the Tools button as well.
A new section was added which held the keyword lists, which were still being issued since the earliest days of Wealthy Affiliate. Also we have within, information about, and links for Pay-per-click Networks and Affiliate Networks.
Up to March 2013, Kyle & Carson maintained these keyword lists. The popularity of keyword list sites dropped off across the Internet and these either became defunct or updated with the times. Wealthy Affiliate has always been a pioneer in the industry and long ago became known as an affiliate marketing training platform rather than a keyword list site. It is interesting to note that it is still possible to join Wealthy Affiliate at 2005 Keyword List Site Prices*** if you join the Premium Membership in a yearly subscription!
*** Note that the above link will take you to the bottom of my Wealthy Affiliate Review which contains the link directly to Wealthy Affiliate. Clicking through will take you to where you can join the Starter Membership. I encourage and recommend you try Wealthy Affiliate first through the no obligation, no cost Starter Membership first!
Kyle & Carson
In this section, new for the 4th major platform roll-out, Kyle & Carson made their biographies available for members. These were short bios for the purpose of getting members to know a little more about them. Also in this section we had the About Wealthy Affiliate, About Beating Adwords and About Inside the List.
Beating Adwords and Inside the List were two pdf publications put out by Kyle & Carson. These were proprietary items with powerful instructions in them that were hits with both the members and non-members alike. The two books eventually became bonuses upon joining. Today, though much of the material in them are still up-do-date, some of it is not and have both been decommissioned. The thoroughness and care put into these books can still be seen today.
In this new section, we have what are called feeder sites and a help area with instructions on how to set these up. These small websites essentially did what WordPress (and other content management systems do today.) They are small sites that essentially drive traffic back to the money site. They were used to create linkwheels, backlinking and to dominate specific keywords. Linkwheels and backlinking are out-dated forms of search engine optimization tactics that no longer work or today, have very minimal effect on page ranking. These are not recommended though through ignorance, they are still taught.
The feeder sites on Wealthy Affiliate pre-made web documents that members used for the above purposes. Already made, all that was to be done with them was add content. They saved a lot of time which otherwise would have been taken up by website-building. These were phased out from the Platform some time ago when WordPress came out and the search engines updated their algorithms which disfavoured the above strategies.
Blogging and unique, high-quality content is the way to go today and is not going anywhere any time soon.
Wealthy Affiliate has always had its own affiliate program for anyone, both members and non-members although today, I believe this is just for Premium Members. From early on Wealthy Affiliate had its special area for it. Today, as it was back to 2005, there was plenty of instruction and teaching on how to do affiliate marketing and has always been a hands-on deployment amongst members. Wealthy Affiliate has banners and specialized affiliate links, a full stats area and everything else you would expect in an affiliate program.
One thing Wealthy Affiliate has never had was what’s called email swipe files. These are pre-made email documents that the affiliates can use in their email campaigns. Wealthy Affiliate has always stressed creating unique content and these were never big with WA.
Finally we have the Incentive Program. Anyone (now membership only) who can, in a year’s time, refer 300 new members to Wealthy Affiliate receive the reward of an all-expense trip paid to Las Vegas for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel’s pent house. The trip includes all food, entertainment and everything else that comes with it all free of cost. The activities also include a convention where Kyle, Carson and members come together and discuss Wealthy Affiliate and what can be done to improve the Platform.
From here on, whatever became dated was dropped and whatever was new came into the horizon was picked up and adopted. Literally everything in the way of keyword tools, hosting, domain registration, website builders, content builders, and more, Kyle and Carson, not only adopted their own, but made them better than any others that can be found today. The Wealthy Affiliate Dashboard, to this day, is a masterpiece and a legacy of our time!
The Basic Layout of the Dashboard
For the most part, the left sidebar has always been the area where navigational links go. Most versions featured the accordion-type menu system though the later, and the latest works a little differently, with a popup containing sub-links to various areas within each group. Near future articles in this series will explore each of these groups in detail.
The content area down to 2012, consisted of the most pertinent information, news, latest members, the top Clickbank opportunities, currentn WA Jobs, news about the Forum, basically the place to go for all of the latest happenings on Wealthy Affiliate.
From what was known as the Open Education Project (OEP,) forward, a right sidebar was added and has since, housed the Live Chat area, Wealthy Affiliate’s chat engine.
Tweaks were made over time from 2012, up into 2018 to the new Dashboard such that, by the time the most recent complete overhaul was done early in 2018, it bore little resemblance to what it looked like at first.
Finally, one of the major purposes of the 2012 updates was to retire the old Forum. This had to be done because the Forum, as nostalgic as it had become, was now full of dated material which caused much confusion for the new members.
The Latest Version – Built for Simplicity
The current Dashboard looks a little like the previous, but is packed with new and updated elements and most importantly, aids in the removal of a number of repeating, redundant links that riddled several of the older Dashboards. Today there is essentially only one link for every element, making the new Dashboard streamlined, clean and very simple to get around in.
The Dashboard is bright, completely up to date and colourful. The idea of a pop-up instead of the accordion-type menu system was carried over to the new Dashboard, each with a fresh new look. The elements themselves have been updated to match the new decor.
There’s no doubt about it. Wealthy Affiliate is thriving even more than ever. The health of the community and the platform have not only persisted, but has increased well beyond the lifespans of many of the competitors. Again, it goes without saying that Wealthy Affiliate, that is to say, everything that makes up this astounding training facility, makes it one to be proud of and is indeed, an Internet legacy of our time.
The next installment in this Series will explore the Wealthy Affiliate community. If you would like more information about Wealthy Affiliate, please visit my Wealthy Affiliate Review – As I Experience WA. Else, please click forward to the next Installment below.
Wealthy Affiliate – an Overview (Part II) – Kyle and Carson << | >>
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