Is The Academy of Online Success a Scam? An Honest Inside Look From a Current Member.

academy of online success proof of purchaseI decided to actually buy a membership at the Academy of Online Success because I’ve been hearing a lot about it and wanted to see if it’s the real deal or a scam. The good news is that it is a legitimate program. The bad news is that it will cost you money to utilize most of the training within it. Here’s my honest review & inside look into the program.

Academy of Online Success in a Nutshell:

The program was created by Paul Birdsall. Basically it’s a program that teaches you email marketing. You learn to create email lists and squeeze pages for capturing leads through 6 lessons known as the “List Mastery Course”.

Then the program teaches you how to get traffic using paid/free advertising sources like PPC & Solo ads through 8 lessons known as the “Instant Traffic Bootcamp”.

The idea behind is to basically promote either either the Academy of Online Success itself or other affiliate type products from places like Clickbank.

Now if you plan on trying this program, do note that you will need:

1. A website + hosting.

2. Some money to invest into the traffic generation techniques you learn within the program. Though one or two of them are free, the best ones are the paid ones.

My Video Review:

The Inside Look (Text Version):

I don’t know about you, but when I visited the main page of the Academy of Online Success, the sale’s video did not open for me. But I did join the program none the less. It costs $25.

What Happened After I joined…

After I joined and received my receipt (right), I was taken to a page which said that people who purchased this program also dean's list screen shotpurchased “these” other products and showed me about 5 different ebooks and/or programs. Some of them were not related to the topic of this program.

Next came the up-sell, which I actually did expect. Paul promotes what is known as the “Dean’s List” which is a $100 a month program where you learn basically advanced tactics for success. Not being a fan of up-sells in general, I decided NOT to buy it.

There is a video promotion of it where Paul talks about how great this Dean’s list is and all the benefits you get including:

1. 100% commissions from people you refer to it. This means if I am a member and someone buys this program through me and also signs up to the Dean’s List, I’d get $125 every month instead of $25. 

2. A 30 day challenge.


3. Access to what he calls Team Leverage which from my understanding is basically a way for members of this place to be able to buy high positioned ads by “chipping in” their money. Usually high positioned ads will cost people a lot of money but through this option, you would be able to get the highest amount of visitors and pay less by basically sharing the advertisement. The whole point of this service is to better help YOU promote the Academy of Online Success. 

But the catch is, in order to promote the Dean’s List and have all of the above perks, you will have to buy it. This up-sell is optional, but they will do a great job of making you think you need it. I strongly recommend trying the first $25 option, seeing if it works and if it does, upgrading.

Frankly I am tired of seeing programs throw these surprises. Granted, I was certain I’d get it, I want to warn you that you will have to go through this up-sell.

Now to the members area:

Here is a screenshot of what you’ll see:

academy of online success members area screenshot


The first thing that will happen is you’ll watch an intro video where Paul welcomes you to the Academy and tells you how to get started. There is also a “Getting Started Checklist” below the video which will basically walk you through the most important parts of the Academy, which I highlighted in the yellow box you see in the picture.


What you need to know is that every training area within the Academy is provided to you in videos. Very rarely will you see a text explanation. Just a heads up.

Let me walk you through each phase: 

1. Smart Start:

This is actually the homepage you see in the picture above. You basically get a quick tour of the program on this page. As I mentioned before there is a checklist below the welcome video. The checklist explains things such as:

The compensation plan. You learn how you can earn money through this program. Basically you get 100 % commissions of people you refer into the program, but if they purchase some of the higher priced offers and you originally did not like the Dean’s List I talked about earlier, when they buy it, the money instead of going to you will go to either Paul or some other higher up.

This is one of the main reasons you are told to buy the Dean’s List, so you can be eligible to earn 100% commissions of the higher priced items. There is more opportunity for money making, but like I said before, try the original system out and see if it works before upgrading. You never want to risk buying these sorts of things in the dark. 

Access Marketers Vault: Basically you get affiliate links to promote the program, banners, and other various tools and reporting programs to help you promote the Academy to others.

2. List Mastery Course. 

6 lessons which talk about the power of email marketing and how to do it. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s the process of having a website, collecting emails and then selling them some product/s over a short/long period of time. Some people swear by it, but I am not one of them.

I’ll give Paul credit though. He does provide the entire idea within the 6 videos. Some of them can be anywhere from 10-20+ minutes long and do go into pretty good details. Every video is in Power Point. Here’s a basic idea of each lesson:

Lesson 1: Explains the importance of email lists. Basic idea.

Lesson 2: You get list building tips. How many times you should send out emails or stay in touch with your leads.

Lesson 3:  Where to find products to promote. Here he talks about places like Clickbank and Instant Payout Marketplace. You can find products to promote to your list here. 

Lesson 4: Tells you how to write follow up emails to keep you leads engaged. Follow ups are basically automatic newsletters sent out every few days so you don’t have to keep track of them.

Lesson 5: Shows you how to start doing email marketing via GetResponse, an autoresponder program. There are also videos detailing how to set it up. If you are going to do email marketing, you will absolutely need an autoresponder. Paul recommends Getresponse and provides which I think is an affiliate link for it. I recommend Aweber instead. Just my personal opinion.

Lesson 6: You get squeeze/capture pages which you can use. Basically these will be the pages you will put on your website/s, send people to, in order to capture their email/s. Paul provides some of his own which you can duplicate which I am totally against as it looks like spam if too many use the same idea. There is also a few other options he recommends including a paid theme called Optimizepress for $97). I don’t recommend buying anything like that.

So to summarize, you’re going to buy a website, an autoresponder and utilize the tips in this training to create a squeeze page. Then you’ll utilize the next section of training to drive traffic to this page. You will then collect emails and either promote Paul’s products to this email list and/or promote products from Clickbank or other places as an affiliate. 

My issues with this: I don’t consider email marketing something that newbies should do. It’s not for everyone in my opinion. If you’re a beginner, I would recommend starting here instead.

Next is the Instant Traffic Bootcamp:

I really expected Paul to talk about SEO here, but instead it’s all focused on paid/free advertising. Things like:

Solo Ads: You basically pay people with email lists to send their subscribers to your squeeze page to sign up. This can be costly, but also profitable. 

PPC: Paul recommends Bing Ads for starters which I totally agree with. He provides videos on how to do successful PPC marketing for cheap prices and also promotes other places which help you do this. I recommend this tutorial if you plan on doing PPC.

Free Paid Solo Ads: Not the same as solo ads. It’s tougher to use and personally I’ve never heard of them until I read about in this section. There is apparently a system through which you can make it work, but Paul recommends signing up to his friend’s email list to find out about it. I assume you’ll have to buy some other product there. The guy’s name is Jaime Cinq-Mars. 

Ad Swaps: You swap email lists with others and collect each other’s subscribers. 

Now there are more, but these I feel are the most important and cover most of the boot camp. Not all of them are mandatory to use, but there are different options to choose from. 

The summary: You will use these traffic tips to get visitors to your website, collect the email list and then promote products to them. Within the training there are some programs/tutorials recommended for you by Paul. Some of them cost nothing, some will have you opt-in to other programs which I assume will eventually sell you something. 

On a personal note, yes you will get instant traffic, but most likely not a lot of subscribers, even if they are targeted. Paul kept using a hypothetical sign up rate of 50% to illustrate his points in the videos talking about the traffic generation tips which I think are really exaggerated. The best I’ve ever seen was 30% in my experience and  that was never through paid advertising.  I just think that number is far fetched, but I could be wrong. 

Product Vault: 

A list of the products within the Academy. Since I just purchased the regular membership, the other places were unavailable to me, most notably the Dean’s List I talked about earlier.

Account Info: 

Just gives you a summary of your account, log-in info, ect… If you ever want to upgrade/cancel the membership, this is where you do it. 


  • Good email marketing training.
  • In-depth videos.
  • You can make money with this system.
  • Utilizes unusual methods of traffic.
  • You do get a good value for $25.
  • Features homework assignments after each lesson.
  • Potential to make 100% commissions. 


  • I don’t recommend email marketing/ppc for newbies. 
  • There is NO SEO training. 
  • No text explanation after each video tutorial (rarely seen).
  • Surprise up-sells: Dean’s List + some other $500 one time payment one & others within training.
  • No forum or connection to other people. You do get a contact email though.
  • Most of the information within the program can be found elsewhere for less & even free.

Final Rating: Academy of Online Success

4 stars

Yellow Light (Caution)

4 stars out of 10. Decent program, but I don’t recommend it for newbies. Does cost money to try many of the methods. There are better alternatives to this program like my #1 recommendation.

My final thoughts: 

It’s a pretty good program. If it would have featured SEO tips which is basically free traffic, I would have given it the extra star and the green light. But because it’s all focused on really paid advertising and email marketing, both of which I am not recommending for newbies, I just can’t give it that go. 

The training is good. The videos are very in-depth and I did learn a lot of new things, but overall nothing life changing since I’ve been in this business for over 8 years. 

My rule of thumb about the Academy:

  • If you’re a newbie and/or have little money to spend, I would not recommend the Academy of Online Success.
  • If however you are familiar with it (email marketing), want to try it out, but need an A-Z on getting started, this program is pretty good for that.
  • If you have money to invest and want to try the fast traffic tips, you can try it, but overall, I don’t think it will yield the kinds of rewards Paul talks about, especially since a lot of the members of the Academy will likely be doing it too. You’ll probably have a lot of competition on your hands.

The Academy of Online Success is NOT a scam. It’s a legitimate program and it’s tactics can work, but there are much better alternatives to building a successful online business, with less money or even no money invested. 

I hope this review of the Academy of Online Success has better helped you understand if the program is for you. If you have any questions regarding it, don’t hesitate to leave me a message in the comments section below. I’d be more than happy to help you out.





honest review


  1. Travis


    I am new to online businesses, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, online marketing, etc. I am currently a member of Global Online Franchise and Academy of Online Success. I became a member of these programs today. I am not sure if I will continue with these programs. Do you have any advice on where I should start to gain more knowledge of email marketing or any other type of online marketing/online business strategies that are free to learn

    • Vitaliy

      Hi Travis, the best place for beginners to start is Wealthy Affiliate. I don’t know about Global Online Franchise, but Academy of Online Success is just an average program as are most of Paul Birdsall’s programs that I’ve reviewed (I’m not a happy customer). Being a beginner, you may find it tough to handle both having a site and managing an email list.

      Experiment with the Wealthy Affiliate program first. I don’t think you’ll even need to rely on the others afterward.

  2. Lloyd Hardy

    Paul endorses My Flex Job.
    So does Global Online Franchise
    The internet reviews call MFJ a scam.
    Do you know anything about MFJ?

    • Vitaliy

      I have mixed feelings about it Lloyd. There isn’t much oversight on the people/companies posting job offers there. What exactly are you looking for online? Part time stuff or a business? Let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

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