Are you looking for a Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing review? If you want to make money online, you might have heard of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. But you may wonder if she is a scam.
There are courses out there that give you fake information, claiming that you can make big money with their system or purchasing the tools they recommend, but they’re not worth it.
To help you make a more informed decision, I have thoroughly researched the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing so I can tell you more about it.
As a disclaimer, I’m not affiliated with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. It means I’m not paid to write this review. So you can rest assured that you will get an honest and unbiased review from me.
At the end of this review, I’ll also tell you the best alternative to Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that has enabled me to make a full-time passive income online.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Review – Key Takeaways
- Course Name: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
- Course Instructors: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
- Price: $197, or two payments of $99
- Pros: The community is active and supportive
- Cons: Short and generic training. Lack of over-the-shoulder examples.
- Overall Rating: 2/5
- The Best Alternative: An All-in-One Platform to Make Passive Income Online
Here’s what I’ll cover In this Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course review.
What is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing?
The Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner aims to help bloggers earn affiliate income.
The course is described on the sales page as a step-by-step guide to creating and making money from your own affiliate marketing strategy. According to the founder Michelle, she explains everything about the ins and outs, so you don’t have to worry about what to do next when you implement your marketing strategy.
This sounds so promising. However, there is nothing practical mentioned. You will not know in advance what kinds of unique strategies Michelle will teach you that might give you an edge over other bloggers when it comes to Google ranking.
She cannot reveal everything to you before you purchase the course, of course. However, as a legitimate course creator, she should at least let you know what kinds of strategies the course excels at. For example, some gurus are good at Facebook ads, whereas others are good at building links to websites.
That said, the course has proved to be very popular. According to an article, the following are Michelle’s earnings from the course in February 2019:
With an average of 6 people signing up for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing per day, that works out to be around $37k per month.
Recommendation: Here’s The Best Alternative
Who is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner?
Michelle is a blogger at MakingSenseofCents.com, where she posts personal finance articles. Because of the success of her blog, she is able to travel full-time in her RV.
Her blog has been running since 2014 and she made $241,659 just from her blog in March 2018.
Affiliate marketing accounted for $187,785 of that.
According to the sales page for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, Michelle describes herself as follows:
Michelle has reported significant earnings over the years on her blog until December 2018.
According to her, she earns $50,000 a month and often more from affiliate marketing alone since 2016.
Recommendation: Here’s The Best Alternative
An Overview of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
The Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course is written in text format, including workbooks, exercises, and strategies for creating a blog.
Each module covers a different pillar of affiliate marketing. Here are the modules:
Module 1: What Is Affiliate Marketing?
This module will explain what affiliate marketing is, why and how companies have affiliate programs.
Module 2: How To Find and Apply To Affiliate Programs
This module will teach you how to find affiliate programs and how to choose the right products to promote.
Module 3: Follow The Rules
The FTC requires affiliate posts to include a legal disclosure statement. This module will cover the disclosures you need to include.
Module 4: How To Get Your Readers To Convert
This section will teach you how to get clients to click on your affiliate links and make purchases.
Module 5: Strategies and Ways To Promote Affiliate Links
In this module, you will learn the best ways to promote your affiliate products and increase your chances of earning commissions.
Module 6: Rinse and Repeat
This module will teach you how to maintain an affiliate marketing strategy for long-term success. There is a checklist in this section for maintaining affiliate strategies.
In addition, there are workbooks, checklists, and bonus materials included with the course:
- How To Always Get Approved for Affiliate Programs
- How To Drive Thousands of Visitors To Your Blog with Pinterest (Video)
- 9 Things You Must Do When Something Goes Viral
- How To Increase Your Page Views
- Affiliate Products and Services (Worksheet)
- The Perfect Affiliate Link Checklist
- How To Maximize Your Reach, Your Impact, and Your Revenue with Facebook Ads
- Editing and Writing Strategies That Will Take Your Content To the Next Level
- How To Legally Protect Your Blog (Video)
Recommendation: Here’s The Best Alternative
12 Reasons Why I Don’t Recommend Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
1. The Good Reviews are Written by Michelle’s Affiliates
You probably have found some other reviews of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and most of them are saying good words.
Those bloggers, however, actually receive a large commission if you purchase Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing using their links. Therefore, their words are often biased and not trustworthy.
The reviews are merely sales pages that do not inform you about the hidden costs or the difficulty of making money using Michelle’s strategies.
When you search Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing review, you might see a website called
The Savvy Couple ranking the first page on Google:
Be careful! They are the super affiliate of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, meaning they make thousands of affiliate commissions by promoting Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
The 9/10 rating is just a sales tactic. Should you trust someone who has a conflict of interest and receives huge compensation to “review” a course? No, probably not. It’s not a review, it’s a sale!
Therefore, I recommend reading the reviews of those written by the non-affiliates of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I tried to search for the real user reviews of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing on Trustpilot, which is the most credible review site:
However, it’s weird to find no reviews at all on Trustpilot. This is unusual for a course that claims to have helped thousands of people succeed in affiliate marketing.
If it’s true, there should be many good ratings there.
2. The Training is Too Shallow and Generic
Despite making claims to be a “step-by-step affiliate marketing course,” the course lacks depth and specifics. Almost every topic the course covers can be found on the web for free.
It is perhaps best illustrated through Michelle’s lesson titled, “Teaching With Tutorials.” As a result, the lesson is only 612 words long, without any screenshots.
The lesson from Michelle about creating reviews isn’t much better, with 1182 words and four screenshots.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing delivers the same value in every lesson.
Yes, Michelle at least has all of the information organized for you in one place.
But I lost confidence in the training so much that I often had to turn to Google for more detailed and current information.
3. No Technical Support
You will probably require technical assistance sometimes if you are new to online marketing. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, however, only offers courses, not technical support.
Therefore, if you encounter technical problems with your website, you have no one to contact. Newbies in online marketing should be concerned about this.
After paying so much for the course, you will feel helpless when you expect to receive all kinds of support.
My #1 recommended platform is different. You will get 24/7 technical support with your website.
They have a technical team standing by any time to help you when you encounter technical problems. It’s really like having hired a technical team. Also, there is a community of a million members there to help you out when you have questions.
4. Lack of Practical Examples
You’ll find many claims and recommendations in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, but few citations or detailed instructions.
As an example, you are told to evaluate the management of each affiliate program you are interested in, but you are never shown how to do so.
Michelle said Interviews are an effective way to promote affiliate products but provide no data or examples to support her claim.
You’re constantly told to “grow your list” and “track your progress,” but you’re never provided with any walk-throughs or instructions on how to do that.
There is a note telling you that it’s important to “be an expert,” but that’s all the “instruction” you get on how to accomplish that.
Despite the fact that you are told that some strategies on social media don’t work, you are not shown any examples or screenshots of these strategies.
There is a “number to calculate” mentioned, but no instruction as to how you can find the data such a calculation requires.
A “help sheet” is recommended, but you’ve never shown what it should look like or what it should contain
Throughout the course, you will see many more examples of TELLING without SHOWING.
To learn affiliate marketing this way is like reading 100 pages of text plus 10 pictures to learn how to fly a plane.
5. No SEO Training
Its training on SEO is completely absent, unlike all other affiliate marketing courses I’ve seen.
However, according to statistics, Google is the top source of internet traffic in most industries, generating over half of it. Combined, Google drives 8 times as much traffic as all social networks.
Most top blogs receive 66.47 percent of their traffic from search engines, composed of 99.77% organic traffic and 0.23% paid traffic.
Therefore, in a course about affiliate marketing, you would expect to cover Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
However, I could only locate two mentions of SEO inside Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing:
Michelle admits she hasn’t relied on organic traffic to her website much, and this might be why this oversight has occurred:
Only in 2019 did she start learning SEO. Do you think you’re comfortable learning affiliate marketing from someone who’s new to SEO?
The majority of traffic to blogs comes from SEO. Yet Michelle’s appears to be getting most of its traffic from social media, particularly Pinterest.
The reason there are two lessons in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing about Pinterest is explained by this.
6. Almost All Text, Very Little Video
Video is used a lot in online courses these days for teaching material. However, most of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing’s lessons are text-based.
This is more or less how most of the lessons look: walls of boring text with only a few screenshots to break up the monotony.
While not every topic would be better served by video, several undoubtedly would, such as:
- Google Analytics – Can you do a screencast showing where each of the important metrics can be found in the Google Analytics interface?
- Content Creation – An in-depth look at Michelle’s process of creating content would be amazing.
- Social Media Marketing – What if Michelle showed how she selects and schedules her social media updates on a screencast?
- Email Marketing – Michelle mentioned the importance of email marketing. It would have been great to see a screencast showing how she prepares and sends out an email.
As it is, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing has only three video lessons, and none of them is from Michelle.
7. Lack of Successful Stories of Students
While Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing claims that a lot of their students see results from the training, there is no verified evidence to show this.
You may see some reviews posting screenshots from their Facebook group as proof of the success stories. But there is no way to verify if those are true results or not.
Also, some students who joined Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing are not beginners, and they already have a well-established website before joining.
So their results might not be attributed to the training of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. That means even if some do get results, it’s unlikely that you can do the same if you are a complete newbie.
8. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Doesn’t Provide You With Any Tools
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing doesn’t provide you with the tools for building an affiliate site.
For example, the keyword research tool is one of the most important tools in affiliate marketing. A keyword research tool like Ahrefs can cost at least $99/month.
The reason why they don’t include any tools in the course is that developing the tools is expensive.
Moreover, without providing you with any free tools, they can recommend relevant tools to you and earn affiliate commissions when you purchase those tools using their links.
By doing so, they can make more money from you.
My #1 recommended platform is different, you will get a free keyword research tool after you join. They create and develop the tools themselves, which are pretty advanced and easy to use. All are included in one single subscription fee. No upsells at all.
Also, My #1 recommended platform’s web hosting quality is comparable to some big names like WPEngine. The website speed is highly optimised when hosting on their servers.
9. Hidden Costs
The Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing sales page does not mention any additional costs.
Once inside, you’ll see a number of recommended paid products and services, such as:
- ConvertKit – $29 per month (ConvertKit has a lot of alternatives. Mailchimp, for example, offers a free plan allowing you to email 2000 subscribers. In her student’s opinion, Michelle seems to be in a grey area of promoting what is profitable first and then if it is helpful to the reader.)
- Tailwind – $9.99 per month
- Facebook ads – $100+ a month (Michelle suggests spending $10 to $20 to boost a Facebook post. However, it is hard to make them work for affiliate products anymore.)
- Website Legal Templates – $100+ (In a webinar lesson, which is really just a sales pitch, it is recommended you buy a package of “website legal templates” that will cost you more than $100 even with the discount code.)
10. The Training is Not Suitable For Beginners
Whether you’re a new blogger or an experienced one, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing promises to be helpful. However, the course isn’t particularly useful for beginners.
There is very little information in the course on how to drive traffic to a new blog. There is nothing about how to create a blog from scratch.
In fact, the entire course appears to assume that you have already established a blog with decent traffic, but you don’t know how to monetize it.
That’s the situation Michelle was in at the beginning of 2014. She was blogging for 3+ years, and her site was receiving 100,000 visitors every month.
However, she had no idea what affiliate marketing was, and wasn’t even earning $1000 per month from it.
You might be able to learn some helpful tips from Michelle’s course if you are in a similar position.
However, it’s certainly NOT the best way to learn how to blog, whether you are a novice or a pro.
11. Low-quality PDF Learning Materials
There are lots of PDF “worksheets” and bonus “lessons” in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. In addition to the mediocre content of the PDFs (at best), the format will have you scratching your head.
There are some PDFs that ask you to handwrite entire paragraphs, for no apparent reason.
Why these “worksheets” are not offered as Google Docs or Google Sheets that students can easily copy upload and edit themselves is beyond me.
There are some “bonuses” within Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that is also offered as PDF files for no apparent reason.
I’m wondering why those “lessons” aren’t just linked to the course material as normal web pages.
I would guess that adding such thin content to a PDF makes it appear more substantial.
12. Fake Bonus
Despite its many “great bonuses,” Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing misleads its customers in a number of ways.
As an example, when you are told that you will receive a PDF outlining what you should do to increase your page views, it turns out that the PDF only has 2 pages of basic information.
My notes for the other eight bonus lessons inside Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing are as follows:
#1. How to Always Get Approved To An Affiliate Program
It’s a decent text lesson from Justine Grey, who has worked for companies like Shopify and FreshBooks with affiliate marketing-related programs.
The lesson is thorough and insightful, even though I’ve never had any issues getting accepted to an affiliate program, so I’m not sure how useful it is.
#2. How To Drive Thousands of Visitors To Your Blog With Pinterest
The Create and Go screencast lesson from Lauren McManus is 33 minutes long. In some places it was out-of-date, but the visual examples made it easy for me to digest.
This video is a sales pitch for Lauren’s Pinterest course. (Note the final 2 minutes.)
#3. 9 Things You Must Do When Something Goes Viral
Two pages of generic tips such as “reread” and “have fun.” A real training program on creating and promoting viral content would have been more useful.
#4. Worksheet – My Affiliate Products And Services
The PDF is only one page long and incredibly impractical. It would have been better to use a Google Sheet here.
#5. Worksheet – The Perfect Affiliate Link Checklist
Here’s another 1-page PDF that shouldn’t be a PDF.
#6. How to Maximize Your Reach, Your Impact, and Your Revenue with Facebook Ads
Monica Louie, a “Facebook ads coach and strategist,” offers a solid introduction to FB ads in this 39-minute video lesson.
#7. Editing And Writing Strategies That Will Take Your Content To The Next Level
Here’s a guest lesson from professional blog editor Ariel Gardner. Basically just a wall of text without any examples or screenshots, and it lacks any specific examples.
#8. How To Legally Protect Your Blog
Liz Stapleton is a lawyer and blogger who shares in a 21-minute video why privacy and terms of service are essential to your blog, then offers you her $100+ template bundle. (Other affiliate marketing courses demonstrate how to do this for free.)
Recommendation: Here’s The Best Alternative
Is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing a Scam?
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is not a scam. Their course does offer some value. If you buy their courses, you might learn something about blogging and affiliate marketing.
You can also find a lot of bloggers recommending the course, mainly their affiliates that can earn significant commissions.
However, since it launched in July 2016, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing has not been updated often. I often googled to see if the information in the course was still relevant.
Besides, Michelle doesn’t offer any data or argument to support her recommendation to promote affiliate products on Instagram.
As far as I know, Instagram is notoriously bad at driving traffic.
In addition, Michelle seems only to consider commissions when she recommends tools.
Bluehost has earned Michelle the most affiliate income than any other provider over the years. It was interesting to see so many complaints about Bluehost inside the MSoAM members’ Facebook group though I don’t have an issue with the hosting service provider.
Perhaps Michelle should provide more options for her students to make comparisons?
Actually, there is no reason to go for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing when there is a better alternative, which is much cheaper, but offers you much more value and can help you succeed faster.
I will tell more about my #1 recommended platform in the next section.
Recommendation: Here’s The Best Alternative
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Review: Final Verdict
Make Sense of Affiliate Marketing is not a course I can recommend in good conscience, especially when there are better options available.
Though the course contains some decent teaching and ideas, nothing is discussed in-depth, and its content is seriously lacking. For 90% of the topics covered, you can easily find better training online for free.
As a follow-up to the last point, I would much rather see Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing offered as a $10 ebook or Udemy course.
The training would still be fairly useless in those formats, but at least it wouldn’t be excessively expensive.
It’s unlikely that many Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing students are getting good results given the poor course materials and the fact that there are so few success stories.
However, Michelle herself is very likeable, so few people are willing to criticize her course out of concern for backlash.
Is There A Better Alternative To Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing?
So what’s the best alternative to Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing? My #1 recommended platform is called Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy Affiliate is an all-in-one platform for building your affiliate marketing business from scratch.
When you join Wealthy Affiliate, you can get access to the first-class web hosting service, keyword research tools, community support, comprehensive training, writing tools, and other software to help you build an online business step-by-step.
You can register a free account with Wealthy Affiliate, which enables you to get started with affiliate marketing right away without paying a penny.
If you like the platform, you can then upgrade to the premium membership to get access to everything on the platform. There are no upsells afterwards.
But How Much Can You Earn with Wealthy Affiliate?
A 21-year old student from Wealthy Affiliate was able to earn $7,395 in just 1 week, which means he made more than $1k a day…all while applying what is taught inside Wealthy Affiliate.
Compared with Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, Wealthy Affiliate has a much longer history, which has been established for 15 years and there are many success stories in the past decade.
Actually, Wealthy Affiliate has more than a million members so far, so you can see how popular this platform is.
To give you more examples, here are some of the other inspiring success stories of Wealthy Affiliate members.
If you don’t trust my words, you can go to Trustpilot to see what the members have to say:
At the time of writing, Wealthy Affiliate is rated 4.8 out of 5, which is excellent. It’s incredible to get such a high rating with more than 400 reviews.
If there are only two or three good reviews, you may say they are fake reviews. But you cannot fake it when there are more than 400 reviews there. Remember, Trustpilot has a very intelligent system to detect fake reviews.
Where to Join Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate has a very simple pricing scheme. It has a free and premium membership. The premium membership only costs $49/month or $395/year.
If you want to feel about Wealthy Affiliate, you can sign up for the free starter membership here (no credit card required). You can select to be a free member with no time limit.
And as a starter member, you can get instant access to the community, live chat, over 500 training modules, 2 classrooms, networking, commenting, 1 free website, access to the keyword tool.
You can enjoy all these values without paying a penny.
So I strongly recommend you to register a free account and see it yourself.