Affiliate marketing is a proven, successful business model. Affiliate marketing can be simple to get started in, and can be very lucrative as a business opportunity too. Moreover, you don’t even need your own product.

But, cracking the secret of affiliate marketing isn’t as easy as it looks, so here a few little-known trade secrets to help you:

1. Start with a great product or service. There are loads of affiliate marketing opportunities out there and it’s so easy to be seduced into joining a scheme that looks great – rather than one that sells a great product.

But selling a great product is fundamental if you want to succeed. What are the product/service’s strengths and weaknesses? What other products and services are in direct competition with it?

2. Be passionate about what you’re selling. The most successful affiliate marketers tend to be the ones that actually love what they’re selling.

So, if possible try to sell a product or service you yourself use and like – your enthusiasm will rub off on your potential customers.

3. Know your potential customers. Before you join a scheme, make sure you know who your potential buyers are. Do some market research. What are they looking for in a product and service? Why do they buy it? How much are they willing to pay?

In particular – look at how and where they buy it. This will be invaluable in working out a marketing strategy.

4. Know the competition. One of the main snags with affiliate marketing is that lots of people are often selling the same thing. In fact, the more successful the affiliate marketing scheme the more people are likely to be selling it.

So, do your homework, find out what your competition will be, look at the good ones and the bad ones – and see what you can learn from them.

5. Don’t just sell! Try to offer your prospective customers so much more than just a good product or service. Offer them information, advice and news on the product/service in question to help their buying decisions. Make yourself an authority on the product/service in question.

Here’s an easy way to do that: Set up a website with articles, news, reviews, updates and so on. Slip your product marketing into lots of quality free content.

6. Develop a list. Rather than your customers just coming to you to buy – with a website or whatever – make sure you can always reach them. This way, you can offer them the newest affiliate products and services whenever you like, and on a regular basis.

Here’s an easy way to do that: Set up a regular email newsletter with articles, news, reviews, updates and so on. Have an opt-in mailing list that customers and prospective customers can join.

7. Exploit social media. There are lots of ways of marketing affiliate products and services. But it’s becoming pretty much essential nowadays to have at least some social media presence. This way, you can slip your marketing message in ‘under the radar’. Better still social media can be very cost effective too (and in some cases costs almost nothing!)

Easy ways to use social media include; a blog, a Facebook page, Twitter presence or, if you are selling some kind of professional/business product or service, try LinkedIn.

Here are some useful articles which tell you more about affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing – how does it work and is it for you?

Which affiliate products really sell?

Make money with Amazon Associates: How to generate a regular income with Amazon’s very own affiliate scheme.