If you are investigating a new online income opportunity that involves paying a fee to a company to train you, make sure to read the small print before you join. Can you afford it?
I was nearly 80 years old. An escrow that had kept the bills paid was going to end soon. I would be faced with a paltry $930 per month income, from Social Security and a state elderly stipend. What could I do?
I decided I needed to find some work-at-home job on the internet, so started looking. Here was an ad for an affiliate marketing company. You signed up and then enrolled other people in the program.
Not too different from a MLM (Multilevel Marketing company), which I was familiar with, as I’d once been part of one. The company was pitching the possibility of earning large sums in a relatively short time. I joined. After the initial interview, I was asked to pay in a rather large sum — something like $2500 — to get started. I had to borrow that money from a friend.
I began their 21-step training program, which was really quite good. I was assigned a training coach, and met with him on Skype. Every day I had to watch videos showing different folks in the program receiving a phone call from a staff member telling them they’d just made rather large sums of money. I wanted in!
Then I came to another training crossroads. I was told I could jump two levels if I paid another lump sum — again, I believe it was $2500 — within a period of a few days. I’d skip a level, saving a couple thousand dollars, and would move up to new opportunities.
Now what? I’d just paid back the first loan from my friend. I borrowed money from her again. I explained to my coach that I had to get the money deposited in my bank before I could pay. As there was no bank in my little town, I had to send my friend’s check to Juneau.
A storm came in. Mail was delayed. The week was drawing to a close. Would I make the deadline?
Then I got an email saying the FTC had closed down the company, declaring it an illegal scam. Whew! I would have lost my friend’s money if that storm hadn’t come through. Saved by rain clouds.
With relief, I gave my friend back her money. But now what? Not only did I have no platform for making money, but I had just lost a large (to me) sum.
Back to the internet. By now, I was sure that affiliate marketing was the way to go. I just had to find the right company.
Then I stumbled upon AWOL. They wanted $99.00 to join. That seemed reasonable enough. I liked what I’d read about the company, and thought it might be what I was looking for.
I joined and started the training. Again, the instruction was good, and I enjoyed it. Then I was asked for another $49 for more training tools.
Though $49 was not bad, I was wary. I’d been burned once. But I’d thought that $99 was all I needed to get the business up and running. For some reason, I had accepted this company on their hype and had still not learned to do my due diligence before jumping in. I had not learned the absolute value of reading company reviews.
Then they sprung it on me. In order to move up, after that $49 purchase, I had to buy the next training module, which was $447.00 — money I did not have. At that point I finally investigated further and discovered there would be other, higher upsells as I went forward.
Again, I quit. The company seemed legitimate enough, and I realized a brick and mortar business would cost a lot more to get established. If I had not been so broke, I might have continued. But I needed to find a company that didn’t welcome me in and then ask for more and more money.
This whole technique reminds me of a Venus flytrap. Once the fly is stuck on the flower, he’s a goner. When he tries to escape, he just becomes more and more mired, until he becomes flytrap food.
I finally found a home with this company
Now I have learned the value of reviews, and am writing this one for you so you can know ahead of time what to expect.
Business name: AWOL Academy
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Owners: Keala Kanae and Kameron George, who created AWOL in 2014.
Price: Initial cost: $99; then a series of modules upward from there to a total of about $26,000.
Products: The training modules from AWOL
Overall rank: 4.0 out of 5
AWOL stands for “Another Way of Life”
The training is quite good. I found Keala to be an accomplished teacher. However, I wish I’d seen their scheduled modules ahead or time, and I would have realized it was not for me.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
If you have the extra cash so you can afford such a program, and bought the full gamut of products, you would be out around $25,883.00. Here is the breakdown of the modules and their costs:
$99 Pro (setting up a sales funnel)
$49 Learn the basics (fundamental knowledge as to how it works)
$447 Inbox Academy (Everything about email lists)
$1797 Conversion Academy (Our most coveted conversion secrets)
$2997 Traffic Academy (Leads: high converting, lazer-targeted ready to buy right now)
$5497 Masters Academy (Money management, strategic tax planning, investing and more)
$14997 AWOL Elite (reserved for the most serious students.)
It is hard to pin down the “Elite” module, as I have seen it priced in three different ways. Perhaps it often changes. If you get up in rank that far in the company, you will find out for sure.
The Academy also has what is called an “Awaken Seminar.” The AWOL description says “An experience designed specifically to challenge, awaken, inspire and change you and your business from the inside out. It is impossible to attend one of these events and not leave transformed.”
Here is a bit more information on what you will get in each AWOL Academy module”
Pro: This module covers setting up a sales funnel with your own website, lead capture pages, conversion tracking system, and email marketing campaigns.
Inbox Academy: Teaches you how to sell through email marketing and gives you strategies to get subscribers to open and click on your order.
Conversion Academy: How to use storytelling and persuasive language to your advantage to engage your audience to action.
Traffic Academy: Discover how to get more targeted traffic to your website with customers who are ready to buy from you.
Masters: Provides training on money management, strategic tax planning, and helps you find good investments.
Elite: This one is only for those members showing exceptional promise.
HOW DO I START ?
Purchase the AWOL 101 coaching package for $99.00. Then watch a short welcome video. Create a personal profile with your contact information, then book a call with a coach to get your questions answered.
Once you have completed these steps, you can then watch all the videos included with this course.
The company has been accredited since June 2017. At this writing, they have a B rating. When 68 customer reviews were averaged, it showed them with a 4.3 rating out of a possible 5-star rating. 23 complaints have been filed against the company.
SOME RED FLAGS
I should have had some questions about AWOL as soon as I read their home page summary of the company, as it is full of hype. For example, here’s just one of the statements they made: “Discover how to turn your website visitors and email subscribers into raving fans and rabid buyers, eager to consume everything your business has to offer.”
These and other similar statements should have triggered a red flag or two. Who would believe that stuff? Also, I learned recently that the house shown in an early video was most likely not Keala’s home, though he intimated that it was. In a video from a totally different company, the CEO entered the same house and claimed it was his. Hmmm…
Another interesting item: I could not find information about their payment plan for affiliates anywhere on their website. I just checked again to make sure. Nowhere do they tell you how much you will make by promoting their products. Nowhere do they tell you when or how you will get paid.
I learned from another review that, as an affiliate, you make 30% commission on any AWOL product you sell. You also make a 5% commission on any products your direct referrals sell to others. This idea is reminiscent of a MLM.
To make affiliate commissions, you have to reach and buy the Traffic Academy module at $2997. To be an affiliate you then have to pay $39.95 per month. I’m guessing you will learn more details about payment in this module.
They have a no questions asked refund policy. (I can vouch for this one, as I got my $99 back.)
There is in-depth coaching and high-quality teaching
Direct access to program creators
Focus on paid advertising
Pushy and expensive upsells
Staff focuses more on recruiting than on helping
Program details: No explanation of how you earn
MY OPINION OF AWOL
It is not a bad company. I enjoyed my training time, and feel that it is thorough. However, I think they try to get you sufficiently “hooked” so you keep buying more and more expensive modules.
If you have the money, you might find it is just what you are looking for. However, for me, it is just too expensive. Instead, I have found a company that is much more reasonable, does not expect you to invest more and more money, and gives you the training you need to build your own money-making website from scratch.