This is my AWOL Academy review. AWOL Academy is an online entrepreneurship program that promotes multiple courses designed to help you become a digital marketer.
I am sorry for that long winded explanation, but trust me, it is shorter than the gobbledy-gook that is on the AWOL “About Us” page.
Check this out: “That’s why we chose to focus on providing a frame work, platform, and curriculum that allows driven self-starters the means to create a location-independent career leveraging emerging technologies.
There is a lot of text that is supposed to make AWOL look cutting edge…or something?
This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated several times to be current with new information. Watch for text with a
strikethrough to see changes. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure is here.
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How Did I Discover AWOL Academy?
I was searching for information on howto make money online and I was reading up on how to write eBooks to sell on Amazon. People in online forums about writing eBooks kept talking about affiliate marketing, so I researched that as well.
Related Post: Start Affiliate Marketing Today
As I looked into affiliate marketing, I naturally found many affiliate marketing education programs. Since some were pricey to get in the door, I did everything that I could to research them for free. I had no idea what blogging was or how many ways there are to make money online, but I learned a lot of other stuff.
And I know a bit about scams
My first experience with online scams was finding out that a friend had been “romance scammed”. She sent thousands of dollars to a fake person. I researched that extensively when online dating was popular with my co-workers.
Later it was an Oprah/Dr.Oz scam for supplements. I cancelled my credit card to stop the charges, but I also learned that scams are literally everywhere.
Now, I try to listen for “buzz words” and other clues when I am online. Scammers have distinct patterns of behaviour that follow them, but romance scams are different from supplements. And both of those are different from online marketing scams.
What I wanted was basic knowledge of the topic, so I don’t get sucked in to something unethical…and expensive.
As I researched I was naturally directed to YouTube to watch informational videos. One big annoying ad kept popping up, because (I guess?) it was aimed at people searching the term “make money online”.
Since I was doing research for myself, I watched the
8 10 minute video.
AWOL Academy YouTube Video: The Mini-Sales Pitch
It is funny that in the latest YouTube videos from Keala Kanae, he talks about how making money fast is “a lie” and how people flashing their fancy homes and cars are misrepresenting themselves.
FYI, in an effort to run away from the multiple pages of negative reviews by students of other blogging education, Keala Kanae, part owner of AWOL has a new business. Same day, different logo. You can run, Keala, but you cannot hide very well.
“Success is not easy” Keala says.
I agree, and I listen to those words while Keala walks us all around and inside his large home while he shows off his cars. *snicker*
The video used to be a bit over 8 minutes, but is now over 10. While I did have a bit of an idea what Affiliate Marketing was, what I learned in the video was the basics of a sales funnel.
Related Post: Create A Sales Funnel
In the video, Keala shows himself laying in a bed of checks that he received as commissions for affiliate marketing. $130,000 worth of checks in 45 days. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that Keala has been at this for a few years, because that kind of money takes a few years to get good at.
I will also say that I believe those checks are from new students to the academy.
If your education sells for thousands of dollars, then yes, I guess you might get enough checks to make a bed? Keala says that you can earn “An extra $10,000 In 90 days by following our instructions”.
First, what does he mean by extra??
Now that I do blogging, I have seen plenty of sales copy. A vague statement like that means one thing, which is “I promise you nothing, but I want you to focus on potential earnings”.
By using a big number like 10K, they get you thinking that you can actually earn an extra $10,000 in 3 months. If you could, everyone would be doing it right?
Secondly, what does “by following our instructions” mean?
This online business code for “we do not give refunds. If you ask for a refund, we will tell you that didn’t follow the instructions correctly and are not entitled to a refund”.
Watch out for any course that gives vague information on their refunds.
FYI most digital courses have no refund because you download it immediately; there is no way to “return” it. However, AWOL is an online education platform so they should give refunds.
Keala talks about how easy it is to find a market for weight loss products (and hence make easy money).
Keala Kanae does not mention that 20% of new bloggers are also going after that market.
Not just AWOL students, but all new bloggers. And your fellow students are getting the identical instructions for finding products as you do. #competition
Unless you are already awesome at marketing, sales, choosing products, email marketing etc. you will be competing with lots of people that have the same skill level as you. Just FYI.
You also get “Entrepreneurial Marketing Training – Freelance Marketing Secrets PDF” from Keala Kanae, because when you sign up they start emailing you immediately. I read it but it was basically a transcript of the YouTube video. #wasteoftime
At the end is an invitation to a webinar for more information.
This 10 minute video ad is a teaser to the webinar “Freelance Digital Secrets Masterclass” that you will be invited to if you give him your email address.
I signed up but I knew within the first minutes of joining the webinar that not only was it pre-recorded (it pretends to be live), but that none of the people signing up were actually attending the webinar with me. #redflag
And I knew that I would never join the program because I could smell the future up-sells.
What Is AWOL Academy?
It is an online marketing education program, much like Six Figure Mentors.
AWOL was started, and is run by, Keala Kanae and Kameron George
There is not a flat price for the program.
Instead, you can join for $99 (“Pro Academy”). The webinar makes it seem like the $99 is all you have to pay for marketing education, but that is far away from the truth.
Current pricing is:
$99 – Pro Academy – Set up your sales funnel
$49 – Internet Income Explained – How online sales processes and digital marketing works. Why isn’t this included in Pro Academy?
$447 – Inbox Academy – How to get email subscribers…because you need someone to sell to
$1,797 – Conversion Academy – How to convince those subscribers to buy
$2,997 – Traffic Academy – How to get more eyes on your sales funnel
$5,497 – Masters Academy – Tax planning and investing. Wth? $5500 just to learn about taxes??
Grand total = $10,886. And don’t believe for one second that you can skip a component. The courses are like a spiderweb and your education is incomplete without all the components…because it was created that way. #upsells
From what I can gather, you are taught how to create a sales funnel, using digital products much like those at Clickbank (Pro Academy & Internet Income Explained). Then you use Facebook or other paid ads to bring in traffic (Traffic Academy).
You encourage visitors to sign up to your mailing list, so that you can promote products to them (Inbox Academy & Conversion Academy). Then, when the money rolls in, you pay taxes and invest the rest?? (Masters Academy)
Is AWOL Academy a scam or just really, really expensive?
Good question. Let us find out together. Ok, I got my invite to the webinar. The webinars seem to only have a start time of 6 pm Pacific time.
It topped out over 3 hours. Keala spent quite a bit of time in the beginning giving everyone a history of his life and how being broke was his motivation to find a better way. Fair enough.
And the rest of the first two hours was Keala expanding *a bit* on what was already on the
8 10+ minute YouTube video ad. The last hour was Q & A from the participants, with the sales pitch to sign up for his basic program. At that point, I started doing dishes and tidying up around the living room so I could still listen. Honestly, my butt was sore.
Here is someone else who had a similar experience watching the webinar:
After the webinar, I went online to look at the web page, because honestly, Keala does not answer the questions that he says that he is going to answer. You do not get to see how he makes a ton of money.
I wanted to see what is really involved in this whole sales funnel business.
Remember, I was brand new to this kind of online business and from some basic searching on the internet I had a bit of an idea on what Keala was talking about. And I still did not fall for it.
There is NO free trial. There is NO preview, video or otherwise, on what the program looks like.
You must pay $99 to get inside – to access to the program.
All I have found out, without paying anything, is that once you sign up, you are encouraged to purchase the upgrades
including the Elite program for $10,000.00 with the assurance that you will earn it back in the next 90 days, selling AWOL Academy! (**Update 2018…Elite program is no longer offered).
However, if you have no experience with online marketing, you are going to require the other components because the $99 Pro Academy will not teach you very much (read on).
So, ya, it is not a scam as such, but it is really expensive. And a bit unethical.
And since you require most of the components to make your funnel work, it will cost you $5,389 to learn how to earn $10K in 90 days. I am assuming that you don’t need Master’s Academy until you are earning money, but it may be required sooner (= $10,886)
All that I can think of is that you will have to hustle your buns off to buy the components, get set up and then find a bunch of people to sign up under you to get commissions from their sales. How else to earn the $10K in 90 days??
Related Post: Try before you buy or money back guarantee?
AWOL Academy has 6 levels of products!
Starting with Pro Academy at $99
“Where you will walk away with a sophisticated business system”. They set you up with a sales funnel, website, and domain. Well, that is not quite a business “system”, but only the beginner steps.
This is where you make a page dedicated to selling one product, and you are selling AWOL Academy. Since everyone is promoting the same stuff, you are competing with everyone else who is doing the exact same thing at the AWOL Academy, the exact same way. Are we moving into the duplicate content here? You tell me.
Related Post: Copying vs duplicate content – Ya, Google does not like this stuff.
This man tried the Pro Academy and here is his experience, which seems to be a common one!:
Will you earn your fortune? Not at this point in your education.
As of my July 2018 update to this post, there is a new add on called Internet Income Explained for $49. It looks like they pulled the information from Inbox Academy, because that component dropped in price by $50 during the last price restructuring.
Okay, well I am guessing that it might be about how to use affiliate marketing to make money.
I have a bunch of posts on this subject which you can find by clicking on the tab above called Start A Blog; help yourself to some free information.
Internet Income Explained – $49
“This is the fundamental knowledge to how online sales processes and digital marketing works. Inside is 4 video modules that discuss our business & marketing mindmap, creating digital assets, our fast track formula, and how to scale your business.”
Why is this an individual component? This should be chapter one of Pro Academy. I would think it would be easier to pitch the more expensive components if you explain why they are needed.
Or maybe that’s just me?
Inbox Academy at
$297 $ 497 $447 (yet another price change??)
This would be learning email marketing tricks. Kind of a pricey add-on when there is plenty of free information on the net.
I have a free tutorial on getting started with email marketing using MailerLite here. You’re welcome!
As well, not all “tricks” work for all websites. No matter what these guys say, there are no “secret” strategies. It has all been done before, by bigger and better companies.
There are tons of people earning 7 figures with their blogs, but it took them 4 or 5 years to get to that point.
Most of them started blogs with mostly free resources.
For an example of this, check out the About Me page of Michelle of Making Sense of Cents. I am not an affiliate of Michelle’s and I have not taken her course, but I enjoy her very inspiring newsletter.
AWOL even uses a time-honored strategy to get you to enroll; “Curious to know what it is? There’s only one way to find out…”
Conversion Academy at
How to write the kind of copy that brings in the paying customers.
This is all about copywriting, which is the skill of writing to get people to click and/or buy. Once again, the other students are learning this at the same time as you and writing their sales copy using the same templates you have, so you are all competing with each other.
Related Post: Copywriting for Beginners: The Basics
Most people can smell the sales pitch a mile away, so unless they are already willing to pay for the program, pre-made copy will not help.
Traffic Academy for
$997 now $2997
The “secrets to unlocking a flood of traffic”. According to the website “these are the secrets to generating a flood of website visitors that convert into loyal customers”.
I’m thinking this is all about paid ads, like Facebook or Google ads. Bring your wallet.
There is one truth in sales and that is that you must know where people are at in the buyers journey.
You cannot sell to people who are not interested in your product.
A sales funnel requires a boatload of people coming into your funnel because you will lose most of them before a sale can be made. Maybe they discover the product is not what they thought, or it looks like too much work, or they can’t afford it. Whatever the case, they are not customers…they are lookie-loos.
You might get 1 to 2% of those people to buy and only if they were researching that product anyway. With pages of negative reviews written about AWOL, how many buyers are out there for you to earn from?
Generating legit loyal traffic comes from building a relationship with the people who visit your website
Hence the word LOYAL. You cannot get people to pay thousands of dollars to a stranger based on secrets that are not really secrets. People, like you and me, read reviews of these products before they buy. Because that is a lot of money to lose.
Some people are lured by the promise of awesome returns, but really you will be lucky if you get your money back. Get Rich Quick promotion is a scam, plain and simple, so I have no idea how Keala gets away with telling people that they will earn $10K in 90 days.
I think the only way that happens is if you pay up front and then ask for a refund…and get it. Maybe this is why you see so few good reviews of this program…
$3497 now $5497
Money management and tax planning. This would be good stuff to learn if you are actually making money this way. However, this information can be had for much cheaper. Much cheaper.
And while we are talking about this, it would make sense to learn about money management before signing up to a program that is just going to bleed your bank account dry and still not help you to have a nice “laptop lifestyle”.
(**Update February 2018: AWOL Elite is not on the website anymore. I assume that is why the prices went up on all of the other components** I am leaving this here for reference)
AWOL Elite for $9997
You get a personal mentor. As soon as you sign up for Pro Academy, and do a couple of lessons you are encouraged to sign up for Elite, with the guarantee that you will make your money back in 90 days. They will teach you how to sell the same program that you just bought, so you can break even. Wow.
Why do you not get a mentor after paying $99?
Should you not have someone helping you out from the beginning? Turns out you do get one, but that person is just there to help with the upsells.
If you buy everything, your education at AWOL Academy is
$15,882 Update: $10,886 , now minus Elite Academy.
That is a lot of money. To help Keala and Kameron become wealthier.
You can set up your own funnel with MailerLite, which comes with free landing pages, opt-in forms and pop-ups.
I went to the PRAISE tab at the AWOL website
(Update 2018: the Praise tab is gone…why??) to see what kind of reviews his students had to say. I checked a couple of the Case Studies, but these people only have a couple of posts in their web pages, and one had a 404 error, so I guess they are too busy trying to earn back their 10 grand to maintain their websites.
That is not much of a recommendation. I was expecting pages of glowing reviews. Nope.
Where are the glowing reviews for AWOL Academy?
I have also seen a few YouTube videos, also from people who talk about how great Keala and Kameron are. Awesome, but how does that help me to decide if this program is right for me? It doesn’t.
I want to hear from someone who bought the program components and was able to earn back their money in 90 days. Or 120 days. Or even ever. Please. Anybody??
echo…echo…echo…The only place to find some real reviews is Better Business Bureau, where you can find reviews like this:
And Why Are All The AWOL Academy Review Posts Promoting Wealthy Affiliate?
When you search online for AWOL reviews, you get pages of results from people promoting a different marketing program…Wealthy Affiliate. Why?
Because that is taught heavily at WA. I know, because I did it when I was a Member there.
What you need to understand about Wealthy Affiliate is that it is a membership site. You are encouraged to promote Wealthy Affiliate as an affiliate of the program. Once you make commissions, you are stuck there. If you leave, you cannot access your affiliate income. Many people stay only for that.
That really bothered me about Wealthy Affiliate.
There are tons of great affiliate products that do not require you to be tied to the product in order to promote it.
As well, the education is really only good for helping brand new online marketers to set up a WordPress blog and start writing posts. Once you need more advanced help, you are forced to look elsewhere.
There is no real business education and the education is strictly for affiliate marketing, which is only one way to earn money online.
Wealthy Affiliate’s best education is for the promotion of Wealthy Affiliate.
I get it. This is how some online businesses are run. With AWOL, you get progressively higher priced up-sells until they squeeze 10K out of your wallet.
With Wealthy Affiliate, you are encouraged to promote them as an affiliate, but are tied to paying the monthly or yearly membership price to be able to collect your commissions.
And you are encouraged to write blog posts that praise Wealthy Affiliate versus any other competing program.
Don’t believe me? WA got busted for that very thing.
They encouraged members to write shady reviews praising WA over other programs, including MOBE. MOBE was shut down as a scam and WA members think that WA was vindicated, but only in that case.
And MOBE had not been under investigation at the time WA was encouraging students to write these kinds of reviews. Check out some of the other posts written by anti-AWOL reviewers…in their estimation every blogging program in the world sucks next to WA.
Keep in mind, the reviewers, for the most part, have not paid for any other online marketing education, so they have no real time experience with whether the other programs are legit or not.
I read one members review of Elite Blog Academy vs WA
In that review, she praised WA as superior. Whaaaaa? EBA has students making a good income in the first year. You will not find that at WA because most bloggers are still trying to figure it out from WA’s limited education.
EBA is solid “blogging as a business” education (I am a member), far superior to WA. They only open their doors once a year for five days.
I was in the Bootcamp portion of the WA Affiliate education, and I saw the posts that were written in 2013 encouraging students to use apps to create images that show how superior WA is.
I felt ill, because I had heard of the lawsuit and defended WA. And they were guilty.
Ugh. So I set all my posts promoting WA to private and I quit the program. I was there for two years, so I have the right to tell the truth about it.
That is why there are tons of review posts talking crap about AWOL and giving glowing praise to WA….tons of students are competing for commissions.
I am not saying don’t sign up to WA; if you want to start a blog, then sign up for the free week and set up a WordPress blog. Just realize that the education is limited and once you complete the regular blog education you can safely quit.
AWOL Academy- FAIL
You do not learn anything from AWOL except how to sell AWOL- which, from what I understand, makes this a pyramid-type scheme. The only people earning money with AWOL are the ones who got in at the start. That truly sucks. Thats how MLM’s work, like Herbalife.
How that works is: person A buys in at the beginning. He convinces person B to buy in, thus earning a commission from that sign-up as well as earning a commission from the mandatory affiliate programs that person B is forced to buy as part of their education at the academy.
Related Post: How to start a blog and make money online
The problem with this type of MLM program is that it gets harder and harder to find people who will sign up. The more bad reviews out there, the harder it gets to find people to sign up.
But even if you cannot find people to sign up, Keala and Kameron are still making a ton of cash off of all the people who have already paid and/or are going to purchase upsells.
You are stuck selling AWOL
And if AWOL tanks? You have nothing to fall back on. Sketchy, especially now that they ditched their most expensive component (I still wonder why…do you?)
$15,000.00 (Now $10,886) is a lot of money to spend, especially since you do not get to “try before you buy”. How do you know what you are really getting for $99, until you pay and check it out? And that is when the up-sells begin…
There are 3 BILLION people online daily, and tons of awesome affiliate products that you can promote that will earn you a tidy sum. With more than enough for everyone. You do not need to sink 10 grand into a iffy-at-best education.
Save your money and do some more research, but be aware that the same guy who helped create AWOL Academy has a new business selling the same education. I am sure that the gang at WA are busy sharpening pencils to write new/old reviews.
Caveat Emptor = let the buyer beware
There are plenty of top-notch blogging programs out there, like Elite Blog Academy and Dare To Conquer that will teach you how to create your own online empire.
Do not choose a program that loses most of its student right after the first up-sell. Get proper education and create freedom in your life.
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*Note: This post was updated in
February July 2018 to reflect the prices and content of the AWOL Academy programs. It was originally published in May 2017, and has been edited for clarity and comprehensiveness. I try to keep it updated as often as possible.