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What Happens When You Downgrade Your Premium Wealthy Affiliate Account?

What Happens When You Downgrade Your Premium Wealthy Affiliate Account?

A bit of background, I joined Wealthy Affiliate as a starter member back in January 2015. In February 2015 I upgraded to Premium monthly. In March 2015 I upgraded to Premium yearly. I paid yearly ever since. In March 2021 I canceled Premium before the next billing period.

I expected my Wealthy Affiliate account to be downgraded to Starter. However that is not what happens. My Wealthy Affiliate account is now “On Hold”. There is no way to downgrade it to Starter. As you can see from the following screenshot, they are naturally keen for me to “resubscribe”.

Wealthy Affiliate Ex-Premium Main Screen

I actually don’t have a problem with them wanting me to “resubscribe”. My points are related to how they treat Ex-Premium members in comparison to free Starter members. And the fact that this policy is “hidden” from view within the Wealthy Affiliate website or at least is not easily found.

Why Would I Want This Account To Be Starter, I Hear You Ask?

I think that it is reasonable for people to change their subscription type from Premium to Starter. After all, they allow people to change their subscription type from Starter to Premium.

I do accept that access to purely Premium services should be reserved purely for Premium members. However services that are free for ever for Starter members should in my opinion, remain free for Ex-Premium members. Just saying.

During 2020 they created another membership type called Premium Plus which allows access to more services than Premium members. Key benefits of Premium Plus membership include access to more live/recorded training classes by additional experts as well as access to the enterprise edition of their keyword research tool plus Managed WordPress hosting for up to fifty websites.

My point here is that they know how to manage additional membership types. So, I think that they should be able to manage Premium members downgrading to Starter. And keep those members happy. However, instead they change that Premium Member’s Account to “On Hold” and do not provide those members with Starter functionally.

The Starter account is free, so I do not really understand this logic. A Starter member who never upgrades to Premium, can have the Starter account for ever and ever.

A common workaround is to sign up for a new Starter account using a different email address. However this raises additional issues. Like who do you sign up under. I decided to sign up under my Ex-Premium account. It did not feel right to sign up under another member.

By the way, this is what the Starter member main screen looks like:

Wealthy Affiliate Starter Main Screen

The other option in my opinion is to have an Ex-Premium membership level that includes most if not all of the free Starter functionally. This is something that I think Wealthy Affiliate should do. They are technically proficient to do this. For some reason, they chose not to.

Circumstances change

Years ago, I understand that the secure managed WordPress sites (maximum of two at the time) that they hosted for free Starter members would be hosted for free for ever.

However as their secure managed WordPress hosting is pretty good that has now changed to a maximum of one website which would be hosted for up to six months which may or may not be the case when you read this. Just to be clear, this hosting for Starter members has limited functionally as it is free.

It’s main purpose is to act as a real-world sample of what you can do with your own website albeit with limited functionally. It is actually pretty easy to put up a bare bones WordPress based website accessible on the internet these days when you know how.

However the main problem I have is that Ex-Premium members who continue to promote Wealthy Affiliate may get new referrals who upgrade to Premium. The new referrals are linked to them. However when they are away, they do not receive Premium commissions.

I think this is wrong. Many affiliate programs are free to join. Affiliates earn commissions when their affiliate links generate sales. They get paid when specified criteria reached. For example, unpaid commissions are over the mimumin threshold for payment, relevant tax forms signed and up to date, et cetera.

Starter members who never upgraded to Premium may promote Wealthy Affiliate and may get new referrals who upgrade to Premium. Those Starter members earn commissions albeit at half the normal Premium member rate. They are very upfront about that. However they are nowhere near as upfront about not paying commissions to Ex-Premium members.

Starter Member Who Never Upgraded To Premium

This person has access to Level 1 Core training.

This person can build a limited Managed WordPress Website which is then hosted for an unspecified period of time as a sub domain.

This person can promote Wealthy Affiliate.

This person has access to tools to promote Wealthy Affiliate (links, banners, hits) within their Wealthy Affiliate account.

This person earns commission when their referrals purchase potential recurring Premium memberships. These commissions are at half the normal rate.

Starter Member Who Upgraded To Premium Whose Premium Membership Period Has Not Expired

Premium membership could be either Premium membership or Premium Plus membership.

For example, a Premium member whose current Premium membership expires three weeks from today who canceled their Premium payment two weeks ago. This member is technically still Premium as they have paid for Premium until three weeks from today. Therefore this member has an Premium membership that has not expired.

This person has access to Level 1 Core training.

This person has access to all levels of the Core training.

This person can build up to a specified number of Managed WordPress Websites which are then hosted (either as a sub domain or using their own domain name. Way more WordPress themes and WordPress plugins can be implemented on these websites.

This person can promote Wealthy Affiliate.

This person has access to tools to promote Wealthy Affiliate (links, banners, hits) within their Wealthy Affiliate account.

This person earns commission when their referrals purchase potential recurring Premium memberships. These commissions are at the normal rate.

Starter Member Who Upgraded To Premium Whose Premium Membership Period Has Expired

Premium membership could be either Premium membership or Premium Plus membership.

For example, a Premium member whose current Premium membership expired three weeks ago who canceled their Premium payment four weeks ago. This member has an Premium membership that has now expired.

This person does not have access to Level 1 Core training. I was not expecting this.

This person does not have access to all levels of the Core training. I was expecting this.

This person no longer has access to their hosting on Wealthy Affiliate within a time period which could be straight away. I was expecting this.

This person can promote Wealthy Affiliate. I was expecting this.

This person does not have access to tools to promote Wealthy Affiliate (links, banners, hits) within their Wealthy Affiliate account. I was not expecting this.

This person does not earn commission when their referrals purchase potential recurring Premium memberships. I was not expecting this.

In a Nutshell, a Starter Member Who Upgraded To Premium Whose Premium Membership Period Has Expired

This person does not have access to Level 1 Core training.

This person does not have access to tools to promote Wealthy Affiliate (links, banners, hits) within their Wealthy Affiliate account.

This person does not earn commission when their referrals purchase potential recurring Premium memberships.

However, in May 2020, when I had various exchanges with Wealthy Affiliate, it looks like when you go Premium again with that Wealthy Affiliate account, that you will get paid for sales only during your new paid for Premium period.

This Does Not Sit Well With Me

This does not sit well with me. I was a Premium member for over six years of consecutive membership. At no time during those six years was I make aware that a Premium member can not downgrade to Starter. At no time during those six years was I make aware that when a Premium member cancels Premium membership, they are just putting their Wealthy Affiliate account “On Hold” and do not actually downgrade back to Starter.

Of course, I understand as a commerical enterprise, Wealthy Affiliate have to make a profit. I understand from the web that the founders of Wealthy Affiliate are making a lot of money from Wealthy Affiliate, year in and year out. And fair play to them.

However I think that Wealthy Affiliate should be way more up front that once a Starter member goes Premium, that they can not revert back to Starter. Along with all the main implications of that. They should not be so secretive of this.

How I found this out

This is a long story and took me a few weeks to actually find out. I had to “fight this on multiple fronts” to get my answers. I decided to write this post to help you find out this information way faster.

Front One

On about May 11th 2021, using the contact support option within my Wealthy Affiliate “On Hold” account I sent a query in. I did not keep a copy of the wording I used. However the gist was something like the following:

I am under the impression that members who were premium however are now no longer premium, can still commissions promoting WA? Is this correct?

I received an email answer which said:

You will want to resubscribe to Premium, if you want to earn Premium commissions. So I would recommend that if you want to do this, that you reconnect your account. 🙂

You will notice that my questions were not answered.

I replied back with:

But starter members who never upgraded to Premium or Premium Plus can earn commissions (at half the normal rate). Is this option open to me?

By May 23rd 2021, I had received no reply to this. Remember the question was asked on May 11th 2021.

You will see above that the initial question was not answered. The reply I had received to my initial question did not answer the questions I asked. That reply had a “We would love to hear from you, please respond above” statement above their initial response.

You can see a screenshot of this email thread below.

Query one with associated exchanges

Front Two

By Sunday May 23rd 2021 as my questions were not answered I decided to use the contact support option again. Replying but not actually answering my questions is the reasons why I say my questions were not answered.

On Sunday May 23rd 2021, using the contact support option within my Wealthy Affiliate “On Hold” account I sent the following query in:

Shouldn’t ex Premium members who are still promoting WA be able to see the affiliate management area inside of WA?
The https://my.wealthyaffiliate.com/share page and each of the links from there to help them promote WA. When I log in now, I see “resubscribe now”, “my domains”, “my account” and “contact support”.
I do not see a “promote WA” option.

I believe that ex Premium members earn half the commissions that premium members earn? Is that correct?

By May 30th 2021, I had received no reply to this. Remember the question was asked on May 23rd 2021.

Query one with associated exchanges

Front Three

As my questions were still not answered, I decided to ask Carson, one of the founders of Wealthy Affiliate, my primary questions. I signed up for a new Starter account using a different email address. Both Carson and Kyle, the other co-founder of Wealthy Affiliate were sending messages to my new profile like crazy.

I replied back to one of Carson’s messages to my new profile when he said “If you have a few moments, let me know how you are doing :)”

Hi Carson,

I have a few questions:

What happens if I take you up on your $19 offer for the first month and then decide it is not for me at the current time.

After going premium and then reverting back to the starter package,
1) Can I still promote WA and get paid commissions for doing so?
2) Will I still be able to see the affiliate share page and the options within it?
3) And edit them when required?
4) Will I still have access to the starter training?

Looking around, the answers to these questions are unclear to me and so I decided to ask one of the founders of WA these questions.

Thanks.
– David

Questions

Carson replied back with:

You cannot revert back or downgrade to Starter once you have upgraded to Premium. However, you will be able to resubscribe to Premium account at any time and reconnect your membership.

Once Premium is canceled, please do understand that your hosting will be turned off immediately when your membership ends. If you want to retain your work, you will either have to resubscribe (which is very easy to do) or you will have to move it to another host while you are an active premium member.

Hope this clarifies for you David!

Questions

I replied back with:

Hi Carson, thanks for coming back to me.

If an ex Premium member can not revert back to Starter, that means that a person who never went premium is in a better position that one who did as noted in the following two cases:

First case:
A starter member who never goes premium has access to the starter training, can promote WA, sees the affiliate share page and the options within it, edit them when required and get paid for any referrals who go premium (at half the normal premium rate).
The answers to my 4 questions are:
Q1) Can this perspn still promote WA and get paid commissions for doing so?
A1) Yes, Yes

Q2) Will this person still be able to see the affiliate share page and the options within it?
A2) Yes, Yes

Q3) And edit them when required?
A3) Yes

Q4) Will this person still have access to the starter training?
A4) Yes

Second case:
A starter member who goes premium, than stops premium and premium period expired no longer has access to the starter training, can not see the affiliate share page and can not see the options within it, nor edit them when required.

At this stage I believe that the answers to my 4 questions are:
Q1) Can this person still promote WA and get paid commissions for doing so?
A1) Unknown, Unknown

Q2) Will this person still be able to see the affiliate share page and the options within it?
A2) No, No

Q3) And edit them when required?
A3) No

Q4) Will this person still have access to the starter training?
A4) No

Please answer my 4 questions for this case.

It looks to me that the person who never went premium is treated better than the person who did go premium then stopped. Or am I missing something?

By the way, your hosting point makes perfect sense to me.

Thanks.
– David

Questions
Questions
Questions

Carson replied back with:

After going premium and then reverting back to the starter package.
-You will lose access to WA once you canceled Premium.

1) Can I still promote WA and get paid commissions for doing so?
-No. Your website will be immediately deactivated, and we always recommend transferring their own website and domains to a different host before the membership gets expired.
2) Will I still be able to see the affiliate share page and the options within it?
– No.
3) And edit them when required?
– No.
4) Will I still have access to the starter training?
– No.

PS. We treat everyone the same as we value each and everyone here at WA. Upgrade at your pace, there’s no pressure here, as your Starter account does not expire.

Questions
Questions

I replied back with:

Hi Carson, thanks for coming back to me.

I understand that access to the premium functionally at WA is lost once premium membership has expired.

However a starter member (say John) who never goes premium has access to more functionally within their starter account than a starter member (say Ben) person who does go premium, cancels premium and the premium period has since expired.

John can still promote WA, earn commissions on his WA referrals, and have access to the starter training.

Ben can not promote WA, can not earn commissions on his WA referrals and does not have access to the starter training.

In this example, Ben has already moved his hosting to another web host. And has a number of posts which contains his various WA links. If someone (say Jane) links on one of Ben’s WA affiliate links, and then (Jane) upgrades to premium, Ben does not earn any commissions on his WA referrals (including Jane). As Ben is not a premium member, went premium and cancelled premium, his payout is nil. He does not earn commissions.

John using non WA hosting also has a number of posts which contains his various WA links. If someone (say Ann) links on one of John’s WA affiliate links, and then (Ann) upgrades to premium, John does earn commissions on his WA referrals (including Ann). As John is not a premium member and never went premium, his payout is half the premium rate. But he does earn commissions.

In this example, John and Ben are not treated the same.

As everyone is treated the same at WA, I am wondering what I am missing?

Cheers,
– David

Questions
Questions

Carson replied back with:

Where did you get that info though? Everyone is treated the same here based on their subscription level. And, yes, you (every Starter member) can still earn commissions as a Starter member. You will earn 100% higher commissions as a Premium member, but by all means, you can earn as a Starter as our affiliate program is free and included in your membership.

PS. For you to get a commission, the person (your referral) should upgrade to Premium.

Questions

I replied back with:

Hi Carson, thanks for coming back to me.

I got the information when you said earlier in this discussion

“After going premium and then reverting back to the starter package.
-You will lose access to WA once you canceled Premium.

1) Can I still promote WA and get paid commissions for doing so?
-No.”

It may be that you meant something else.

My current understanding is:
Starter member: Earn WA commissions at half the premium rate.
Premium member: Earn WA commissions at the premium rate.
Ex-Premium member: Earn WA commissions at half the premium rate.

Is my current understanding correct?

Cheers,
– David

Questions

Carson did not reply to me within a few days so I had to ask the primary question using yet another front.

You will notice that above Carson did reply but in my opinion did not fully answer my questions.

Front Four

On Thursday May 27th 2021, using the contact support option within my Wealthy Affiliate “On Hold” account I sent the following query in:

I am currently an ex-premium member of WA. XXXXXXXX is my WA userid. I have moved my website over to another webhost. I have a number of posts pointing to WA that use my affiliate referral code of YYYYYYY. I need to know that if anyone joins using these and then upgrades to premium that I would get paid commissions from WA.

When I log into my WA Ex-Premium account, I see a few main options – Resubscribe now, my domains, my account, contact support and the drop down sign out option.
As far as I can see, there is no option to access the WA affiliate program (the options to build links, get banners, see statistics) there.
I think there should be especially if ex-Premium members can actually promote WA.

Just saying,
– David

Query four: Question

I received an email answer which said:

If you are an active Premium member, yes you will receive commissions. The referrals are still connected to you when people join through you David, but you will not receive active Premium commissions while you are away.

Query four: Answer

On Monday May 31st 2021, using the contact support option within my Wealthy Affiliate “On Hold” account I sent the following query in:

I am currently an ex-premium member of WA. XXXXXXXXXXX is my WA userid.

I have posts up still promoting WA. If any of my referrals upgrade to premium when I am away I do not receive commissions on those sales.

I am wondering are those commissions put on-hold and added up when I am away? Then if I go premium again, will I receive those on-hold added up commissions on those premium sales that happened when I was away?

For example, John’s WA account goes “ex-premium” on March 21st 2021. Mary gets a WA starter account using his referral code on April 2nd 2021. Mary takes WA up on the $19 first month offer on April 15th 2021.

If John had never upgraded to premium and was still a starter member he would have earned $4.00 for that. John would have earned $8.00 for the first month $19.00 special offer if he was a premium member then.

John resubscribes on May 12th 2021, Mary pays for her next month on May 14th 2021 – John earns $23.50 on that $49.00 monthly subscription.

Would John also receive the $8 for Mary’s first month $19 special offer (on the first month $19 special offer sale that happened while he was away)?

If he does not receive that $8 commission while he was away, a starter member who never upgraded to premium is in a better position.

Just saying,
– David

Query four, second related question

I received an email answer which said:

You will still get these referrals, but you wont’ receive active Premium commissions until you resubscribe. They are still your referrals in the time away though, and when you resubscribe you will start earning commissions again.

I hope this clarifies for you here.

Query four, second related answer

Conclusions

Most of the received replies did not actually directly answer my questions. Most of the replies raised additional questions. Maybe I asked the questions in the wrong way. They may have used boilerplate answers and forgot to edit those boilerplate answers before replying.

Wealthy Affiliate actually do a lot of things every well. However, in my opinion, they should treat Ex-Premium members way better. At the very least, they should treat them in the same way as Starter members.

This shows in my opinion that they treat Starter members who never upgraded to Premium better than Starter members who did upgrade to Premium however then stopped their Premium recurring payments.

For many affiliate programs out there, it is free to become an affiliate. There are no payments to become or remain an affiliate.

Promoting Wealthy Affiliate for Commisions

These are my observations and my understandings at the present time (May 31st 2021). Of course, Wealthy Affiliate are a third party and I may have misunderstood. However, these communications with Wealthy Affiliate are directly with them. I hope that my understandings as mentioned in this post are true and accurate when this post was first published on May 31st 2021.

Starter member

Earn WA commissions at half the Premium rate.

Premium member

Earn WA commissions at the Premium rate.

Ex-Premium member

Do not Earn WA commissions. However their referrals are still connected to them. If they upgrade again to Premium they earn Premium commissions again at the Premium rate for sales that happen in their new Premium membership period. They have “lost” all commissions that they would have otherwise earned while “they are away”.

Promoting WA when Ex-Premium Considerations

The way I see it, Ex-Prember members have two options if they want to continue promoting Wealthy Affiliate. Remember that these people may have specified their Wealthy Affiliate referral code in numerous links. They may or may not have the ability to actually change these links and even if they have the ability to change these links, it may be a time consuming task to do so.

Option One

Leave the existing links in place. Accept that any commissions earned while “away” are “gone” however the referrals are still yours. You actually earn nothing for any related sales. You may not actually be informed about these sales. I was not informed when I signed up for my second Starter account under my Ex-Premium account. I can not see my affiliate related statistics to make an informed choice about becoming Premium again.

Option Two

Change as many of the existing links to point to the referal code associated with the new Starter account. This means that if any upgrade to Premium, I would get half the normal Premium rate. However it is going to take some time and effort to do this. And of course, people may still join up and become Premium under my Ex-Premium account, because I had been promoting them for some time, albeit with very limited success due to the sheer number of people promoting Wealthy Affiliate and I suspect to the “last affiliate” cookie rule.

Option One and Option Two

Both of these options have issues with the Wealthy Affiliate current setup. In my opinion, Ex-Premium members should not have to look at option two as the problem should not arise. However the problem does arise.

How long has this been a “hidden” Wealthy Affiliate policy?

Years.

Once I knew the above, I actually use Google with an extremely focussed keyword phrase. Google found the following discussion over four years ago at Wealthy Affiliate.

Promoting WA when Ex-Premium considerations

In My Opinion, How Can This Be Fixed?

No way am I suggesting that Ex-Premium members should have access to the Premium only functionally when they are currently “away”. However, in my opinion, Ex-Premium members should have access to most if not all of the functionally that Starter members do.

I accept of course that there may be some house-keeping activities that need to be considered and done. For example, hosting considerations when going from Premium to Starter as Premium hosting has more functionally available.

What is required in my opinion, are very clear policy statements. And for these policy statements to be updated when/if the policy changes. All policies should be easy to find within the Wealthy Affiliate website.

I don’t like this policy of how they treat Ex-Premium members. I also don’t like that this policy is “hidden” from view within Wealthy Affiliate or not easily found within Wealthy Affiliate. I also don’t like that it required time and effort to actually find out this policy.

In my view, the fix that Wealthy Affiliate can do to correct this is to provide Ex-Premium members with another option when they log into Wealthy Affiliate called “Continue”. This simply displays the current Starter member menu. This includes the Affiliate Program. Ex-Premium members should be treated the same as Starter members including actually getting commissions for their Premium membership sales.

As an affiliate, becoming a member of Wealthy Affiliate was a good decision. Being premium I was able to use their hosting, keyword research tool, find public domain images easily, I learned about SEO, how to use Canva, et cetera using their recordings of their live classes.

I work from the comfort of my own home. I use the training I got and get from Wealthy Affiliate on a regular basis to help me build up my online presence.

For me, it is not a get rich quick scheme. It does require a lot of work. In my opinion, it is best to start part time until you have built it up enough to go full time.

Remember the old saying, Rome was not built in a day.

As you may have gathered by now, I am an affiliate marketer for Wealthy Affiliate. Just because there are some things that I do not like about Wealthy Affiliate does not mean I do not like the service or am unwilling to promote them. Wealthy Affiliate do a lot of things very well.

Here’s a brilliant short YouTube video talking about Wealthy Affiliate Being The Best Affiliate Marketing School!

Wealthy Affiliate Free Starter Membership, Sign Up Now

Disclosure: If you click on any of my links to Wealthy Affiliate, I may earn a commission. I just might be a little biased! Just saying!

Hi, I'm David. I write articles such as this one. Enjoy!

[More About David]
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